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Fireplace Safety

This time of the year is when people start thinking about building a fire.  Whether it is to keep warm or just to look cozy, here are some safety tips before you light up.

We always recommend to have your fireplace professionally cleaned and inspected annually.  This is a more in-depth inspection than what is done during a regular home inspection, including a scope down the chimney interior, looking for cracks or damage.  Make sure there are no birds nests in the chimney.  Clean out any ashes from previous fires.

You will want the flue inlets or damper open when you start a fire. You don’t want the smoke coming into your home.  Leave the damper open overnight, after burning a fire, to vent out carbon monoxide, then close it the following morning.  If you have a gas fireplace, always keep your damper open while burning.

Keep the hearth clear of debris, decorations and clutter.  Keep the fire in the firebox!

Use a safety screen to prevent embers from popping out.

Start your fire with dry kindling.  Never use kerosene or gasoline to light the fireplace. Use dry and seasoned wood only. Wet wood causes more smoke and soot build-up.  Pine, firs, and cypress burn fast, but leave you with more soot.  Avoid burning hedge, unless you know for sure your fireplace is built for it and up to the task (Hedge burns hotter than most wood).  Smaller pieces of wood placed on a grate burn faster and produce less smoke.

Can I burn paper or trash in my fireplace?  While it might seem like a good idea, it can actually create a chimney fire.  Paper burns quickly, which increases flames. Also, some trash and cardboard are treated with chemicals, that when burned, are hazardous to breathe in.

Safety tips:  Never leave a fire burning unattended.  And keep a fire extinguisher close by. Install a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector in the room. 

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